ARCHAEOLOGISTS excavating the ruins of a Roman city in Egypt have uncovered the remains of a sprawling fortress built over 2,000 years ago.

Researchers say the ancient fort was built to defend a port on the Red Sea coast, with three large courtyards and several buildings that housed workshops and stores.

Inside, they also discovered rubbish dumps filled with terracotta figures, coins, and even a fragment of an elephant skull.

The city, named Berenike Trogodytika, was first discovered in 1818, though it wasn’t until 2012 that excavations actually began.

Work at the site uncovered a “multi-phased” building measuring about 535 feet long and 262 feet wide.

The team also found defences along the north and north-east side.

The researchers from the Polish and American team write in a new paper, published in the journal Antiquity: “These fortifications cut off the site from the mainland.

“A double line of walls protected the western part of the fortress, while a single line sufficed farther to the east and north.

“Square towers were built at the corners and in strategic places where sections of the walls connected.”

Inside, they found the ruins of what seem to be living quarters, workshops, and rubbish dumps.

These contained terracotta figurines, coins and part of the skull of a young elephant.

According to the team, a molar tooth from the same species was also found in the northern courtyard.

On top of this, the researchers also found a massive well area for collecting water, with a series of large pools that held thousands of gallons of water.

They added: “The two largest pools may have had a total capacity of over 17,000 litres.

“This area was clearly important for water storage – also indicated by the presence of installations for the drainage and collection of rainwater adjacent to the gatehouse to the east.

“The existence of such water-collecting installations demonstrates that there was sufficient rainfall to make collection worthwhile, suggesting a more humid climate than today.”

The findings at Berenike represent the first known Hellenistic urban site in the region.

The Hellenistic period covers the period of Mediterranean history between the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and the emergence of the Roman Empire as signified by the Battle of Actium in 31 BC.